IEBC to decide fate of Kalonzo State House bid
Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka’s fate on whether he will vie for the presidency in August now lies with the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), which will ascertain if he is within the law in his decision to ditch the Azimio-One Kenya Alliance Coalition Party.
IEBC Vice Chair Juliana Cherera yesterday told the People Daily that the electoral agency will follow the Political Parties Amendment Act and the Constitution before making a decision on whether to clear or block Kalonzo from vying.
Her remarks came two days after Kalonzo declared that he had withdrawn from Azimio-One Kenya Coalition Party, of which his party, Wiper, is a member.
Before Wiper joined the coalition, it had endorsed Kalonzo to vie for the presidency and cleared him to engage with like-minded party leaders in forming a coalition.
Wiper then joined the Okoa Kenya Alliance (OKA) together with Narc Kenya and Kanu. The three parties then joined Azimio-One Kenya, whose presidential candidate is Raila Odinga.
Kalonzo had demanded that Raila names him his running mate. But on Monday, the Azimio presidential candidate picked Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua and Kalonzo immediately announced that he had left the coalition to mount his own presidential campaign.
In an interview with People Daily yesterday, Cherera said that while any person is entitled to present his papers before the commission, it is not mandatory to be cleared because the power to decide who eventually makes it to the ballot lies with the commission.
“We will be guided by the Political Parties Act and any other relevant law. As a commission, we have not taken a position yet but all the presidential aspirants will present their papers and the commission will make a decision to clear or not based on the law,” said Cherera.
Her sentiments signal that the coast is not yet clear for Kalonzo, who has been offered the position of Chief Cabinet Secretary by Azimio, a position that he rejected.
However, President Uhuru Kenyatta - the Azimio-One Kenya chairman - and Raila together with their allies have reached out to Kalonzo, asking him to return to the coalition.
Kalonzo hails from lower Eastern, a region that controls over 1.6 million votes, meaning that his candidature could affect the outcome of the presidential race and probably force a run-off.
The bone of contention in his candidature is the fact that Wiper is a member of Azimio coalition political party and the agreement between the constituent parties bars any affiliated party from leaving the coalition six months to and three months after the election.
The agreement has been deposited with the Registrar of Political Parties Anne Nderitu.
Kenyans have 80 days to the next General Election. The last time a party tried to leave the Azimio coalition, Nderitu blocked it, citing the clause in the agreement.
In a statement on Wednesday, IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati announced that 55 presidential aspirants had beat the May 16 deadline for submitting their names and those of their running mates.
The candidates include one coalition party aspirant, 14 political party aspirants and 40 independent candidates.
“The presidential and gubernatorial aspirants will be cleared as candidates by the Presidential Returning Officer and the County Returning Officers respectively, during the registration period, once their qualification to contest in the respective elective positions is ascertained,” Chebukati said.
On March 12, Wiper and Kanu parties signed an agreement to join the Azimio la Umoja Coalition Political Party as individual entities and formally endorsed Raila’s candidature as the outfit’s presidential flag bearer.
“Nasema Raila tosha (Raila is suitable),” Kalonzo said at a rally in Nairobi during which Raila was presented to party supporters after being endorsed by party leaders earlier in the day.
Wiper and Kanu were among 19 other political parties that appended their signatures to the coalition agreement that was later ratified by Azimio delegates.
At the time, Kalonzo offered to support Raila for a third time after being his running mate in the 2013 and 2017 elections. His move ended weeks of speculation over whether he would support Raila, vie under the Wiper ticket or join Kenya Kwanza Alliance, whose presidential aspirant is Deputy President William Ruto.
In a political twist on Monday, however, as Raila was unveiling Karua as his running mate, Kalonzo was unveiling Andrew Sunkuli – the Wiper Narok senatorial aspirant – as his running mate.
The move threw Azimio into a spin amid frantic efforts to woo Kalonzo back.
But his flip-flopping is now headed for legal interpretation by IEBC which has two choices, to clear him to vie as a Wiper candidate or block him.
“We will look at the Political Parties Act and the documents signed by the parties forming Azimio,” Cherera said yesterday.
“He (Kalonzo) will present his papers to the presidential returning officer who will clear him or not based on the law”.
IEBC Chairman Chebukati is the presidential returning officer. He will meet all presidential hopefuls or their representatives at Bomas of Kenya on Monday, May 23.
“For now, we only have aspirants who have expressed their intention to vie for various seats. But they will present their papers to the commission to be cleared before they become candidates,” said Cherera.
Asked how the Commission will deal with the huge numbers of the independent candidates in the printing of ballot papers, the IEBC official said as long as the aspirants qualify and have been cleared, they will all appear on the ballot papers for the electorate to choose their leaders.
Thirty-eight independent aspirants have expressed interest in running for president. They will face off with about ten others who are sponsored by political parties or coalitions.
Raila and Ruto are considered front-runners with the latest opinion poll putting Kalonzo a distant third with two per cent support compared to 39 per cent and 35 per cent for Raila and Ruto, respectively.